Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Cavernous Malformation - Post Surgery

Apparently I was really funny after the surgery and was still under the influence of the anesthesia. I tried getting up off my bed and it took 5 nurses to keep me down. They had to use restraints to tie me to the bed. When I came to in my right mind, I wasn't restrained. But, I immediately did two things. I checked to see if I could still think and that I wasn't a vegetable. I thought, "I think, so therefore I am." I was thrilled. Then I wiggled my feet and my hands, and I was elated that I wasn't paralyzed.
The surgeon before the operation told us that it was unlikely, but there was a small risk of both of those things. I'm just super grateful that everything went well. Some people spent weeks in intensive care before and after surgery. I spent another night after the surgery, and I was doing so well that I was sent to a normal hospital room. I was doing so well there too, that after another day and a half, they said there was no reason to stay, that I could go home and recover from the surgery. I was so happy.

So many people came to visit me in the hospital, and it made me super happy to see everybody! I think I was supposed to be sleeping all the time, but it was much more enjoyable to interact with people. I was just happy to be alive.

My professor Jim, whose the Director of Undergraduate studies for the School of Computing came to visit me my first day in the hospital. That was the day that I was supposed to be presenting my Senior Project, and my Data Mining Project, both that I worked super hard on. It was really cool to see him and he assured me that everything would be resolved with this Semester after everything was resolved. I think that he felt responsible for me, since he told me to get checked out. I honestly doubt that he thought that my brain was bleeding and that I'd need brain surgery. I'm glad that he was so insistent that I get checked out. He actually came to see me again to check up on me, but I was already discharged.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Josh and Justine were there for most of my hospital stay. I wanted to show them all the cool sights of Salt Lake, but they had to go back to the Seattle. We were in the middle of moving and we didn't finish. They packed up everything into boxes. I don't know what we would have done without them.

I finally got to meet Alia, my cousin Sean's new wife. It was cool to see them. My wife has been talking with Alia a lot, and I think that they make great friends. They came all the way from Stockton, California. They came before the surgery, and they had to leave before I was discharged.

My immediate family, parents and siblings, were on an epic vacation to Las Vegas, and a lot of the hot spots in California, such as Knotsberry Farm, Disneyland, etc... They were leaving the day that I checked into the ER. When they heard that I was going to have brain surgery, I think that they were going to try to make the day of surgery, which was like 5 days for them. Once they heard that it would be tomorrow, I think they drove all the way from California straight, to see me. They got there in the wee hours of the morning. I was thrilled to see them, but I had such a bad migraine, that I didn't really want visitors that night. But, it was amazing to see them after that, and we even spent a few days at their house.

My parent in-laws drove from Pasco, Washington, and it was awesome to see them. They took a whole week off of work to help us recover and to transition to our new apartment. They were with us at the hospital a lot of the time.

My Senior Project Group, came to visit me in the hospital after the presentation. They said that we did well and that we had a lot of interaction with our apps. It was good to see them.

My buddy Leland and his wife Valerie visited again. His calling was to pass sacrament in the hospital, so he gave us the sacrament that Sunday.

My Aunt and Uncle Gord and Rosario, my cousin Phil and his wife Arielle, and my Grandma all came and visited. It was crazy, because just the prior weekend, we all got together to visit my Grandma on her birthday and I was doing fine then.

Mark from my band came and visited and we had a great chat. Other members apparently came after I had checked out.

The most important person who was beside me the whole time was my friend, my wife. I'm planning on dedicating a whole blog post to her.

A lot more people visited after I checkout and it was such a great experience to see so many people that I love.

My Cavernous Malformation - Return to the Hospital

It was not fun staying in the Intensive Care unit, so I was thrilled to go home. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law came from Seattle to come help us and to make sure that we weren't alone. They're cool people, and I was excited to hang out with them. I was supposed to be taking it easy, but I felt perfectly normal besides the speaking. I didn't do anything that strenuous that night. We went grocery shopping, played some light frisbee and then I had a headache and went to bed a little early around 9pm.

When I woke up around 2pm the next day, I had an unbearable migraine. I just wanted to sleep. Someone called the hospital and told them about my symptoms. The hospital said that that was not good and that I needed to go in immediately, and they'd move my surgery for tomorrow, instead of the following Tuesday, which was like 5 days. They were originally going to wait more time because I was more stable.

It wasn't fun being stuck in the Intensive Care again, getting my blood drawn every hour, nurses asking me what my name and what the date was even though I couldn't respond, but my head hurt so bad, I barely remember anything. I got strong pain medication, but it still hurt and the meds made my very nauseous. I couldn't sleep very well. I just wanted the night to be over. I was going to have surgery the next morning, around 7am. I wasn't very nervous for surgery at that moment. The migraine was so intense that I just wanted it to go away.

I was nervous for one last brain imaging scan they wanted to do, which involved sticking a rod into my groin that extended up my torso that shot out ink that would flow through my brain. Just sticking anything into my groin sounded painful. Which should have been a small concern to the concept of brain surgery, where they make an incision in your head, rip out a chunk of your skull, remove stuff that shouldn't be next to your brain, and patch you up together again. Luckily, they knocked me out for the test, and I didn't remember anything until I came to after the surgery.

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Cavernous Malformation - Hospital Stay 1

It was so surreal. I was going to be staying overnight in the Neuro Intensive care, and I was going to be getting brain surgery. This was the most inconvenient time ever. I was almost worried that my professors would think that this was some ploy to delay my finals.

I was monitored several times an hour to make sure that my condition didn't deteriorate, and to get get vitals. I was always asked my name, the date, how many figures they were holding. I couldn't recite the date, it was so bad. When I was finally allowed to eat that night, I ate ice cream. The first time that I had eaten ice cream that month.

My wife was so worried, that she wanted me to get a blessing that night at 10:00 pm. Luckily I have an awesome friend Leland at University Student Housing, and he came with his home teaching companion.

While, I couldn't speak, the Neurosurgery department remarked that I was doing remarkably stable. They scheduled a surgery the following week, and another MRI, and they planned on releasing me. I was thrilled.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Cavernous Malformation - How I found out

It was Sunday, April 24. I had just finished studying for finals for the night, and I decided to watch a couple of episodes of "The Office" with my wife before going to bed. Everything was normal, except that I started unintentionally stuttering, which is abnormal for me. Attributing this to the upcoming finals, I ignored it.

The next day, my stuttering got much worse. In fact, I was forgetting many of my words. My mind and body felt exactly the same, except that my mouth wouldn't say what I wanted it to. My wife was the first to be worried and told me that I should maybe talk to a doctor. But, I never go to doctors.

 The following day is when things got much worse. I was unable to string together an entire intelligible sentence. Sending texts and composing emails was very difficult. I had to give a final presentation to my professor to show off my Senior Project. I was embarrassed by inability to talk, and I tried my best to mask it. We were going to be graded on presentation, confidence, etc... I wasn't able to present very well. Instead of critiquing me, my professor told me that I didn't seem okay, and that I should go get checked out at the doctor. He told me to not ignore it.
I had plenty of tasks to do that day, and I thought that I'd maybe call a doctor's office if I had time later in the day.

I drove to work to get in a few hours. One of my co-workers asked me a simple question about the status of a specific project. I struggled so hard to respond that I wanted to break down. He told me that I probably wasn't stressed, and that I should go get help immediately. He helped me get checked into InstaCare where my wife met me.

I felt kinda foolish. I thought that they were going to tell me to relax, drink hot chocolate, and have less stress in the next couple of days. The doctor talked to me for 3 minutes, and told me that I'd my brain scanned, and that I'd need to go to the ER at the hospital.

I was a little annoyed by the hassle of going to the ER. I really didn't want to spend the money on fancy CAT scans and MRIs, just to be told that I was okay and that I needed to stress less. The doctors were very nice, and I met with a lot of them, most of them perplexed that I seemed to be reasonably healthy and normal. I realized that I could comprehend things perfectly, but I couldn't speak out loud. Like I couldn't read words, dates, or numbers.

I finally got my brain scanned. I was shocked by the results. My brain had internal bleeding, and I was most likely going to need brain surgery. I just thought of the clip of Anchorman, "Well that escalated quickly!"

Earlier that day, my biggest worries were pushing myself to run 2 miles, study for finals, coordinate with my band to shoot music videos for our press-kit, just accepted my first post-graduation job, and signing a contract for my new apartment. Now that all of that would have to be placed on hold until I figure out exactly what was going on with me, and what impact that this would have on my life.

I'll have to write this in chunks at a time. The part of my brain that was affected was the expressive side. The part of my brain that had surgery is tingling right now.